Off again to Lanzarote

My wife and I are once again going to Lanzarote. We will be racing in the Ironman Triathlon. I am taking my Panasonic micro four thirds camera equipment - its very compact and light. I hope to complete some work on the projects dealing with colour schemes within the Landscape course. I shall also be taking a Ben Maddow's  Edward Weston, His Life and  Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography.

Here is a photograph which I took at La Santa in Lanzarote last time I was there in March. It has predominently a grey/blue pallet which coupled with the effect created by using a long exposure gives the image dreamy/calming feel - at least I think it does. On looking at this photograph again, I feel that I may have overdone the contrast and saturation - the colours are too strong and this detracts from the realism and tranquility of the image.

Atlantic Ocean, North Coast Lanzarote Canary Islands

I have been working on Assignment One in the background - making an effort to record my response to the Spring. I have yet to complete this to my satisfaction. I sometimes wonder if I am getting too self critical about my work. I don't think so as I believe it is important to strive for the best. There are a couple of weeks of Spring after my return and I will get out a lot to try to complete Assignment One based on Springtime. I do not however intend to be rushed into completing the work so if I do not obtain 12 photographs which I am proud of then I will base Assignment One on the Summertime.


Projects Five and Six - Interacting subjects and framing differently

The aim of these projects was to explore the impact of seeking out different perspectives and viewpoints when framing a landscape image. For the project 5 I took a series of image of a Henry Moore sculpture - Large Spindle Piece - which is on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.

The top left image shows a broad view of the park with the statue in context. This is not a successful image. There is no clear point of interest and it is fundamentally dull. I decided to move in and try a portrait framing. The second image shows more of the statue but I don't like the portrait framing. It doesn't make the most of the wide open nature of the park. For the third image (bottom left) I moved in even closer and this I feel works really well with both the statue and its context being displayed clearly. The composition of this image works well and the people in the background help from a context and scale perspective. Finally I moved in really close and captured a detail of the statue. The result is more dramatic and somewhat abstract. Overall the third image is my favourite. 

For Project Six I took a series of photographs at Cookham Common. After exploring a series of alternatives I finally came up with a composition in which I used a close up of dandelions as prominent foreground interest. I think it works  well. All in all these projects made me realise that landscape compositions need to be searched and that exploration of alternatives can result in a far stronger final image.  

 Dandelions, Cookham Common Berkshire UK


Project Four - Collage

This is a project I will return to during the course. The idea of the project was to create a collage of photographs in a panoramic format. The first stage was to produce an image using a small number of photos.  This is an example of my work:

View from Cliveden towards Cookham

The next stage was to produce a larger panorama of from at least 12 images. This is my first attempt.

Hambleden Village Oxfordshire

The two photographs are a creditable first effort but they are not great images. I found visualising the composition to be very difficult. Whilst the normal rules of good composition apply, the wider perspective makes pre-visualisation problematic. Neither photograph has a strong composition.

In the first image, I was attracted by the range of textures and variations on the single colour  - green. In the final result I feel that the composition lacks a point of focus. Also chopping off the top of the trees close to their tops doesn't seem to work.

In the second larger  panorama of Hambleden I was disappointed that I did not accurately estimate the depth of focus so parts of the village are not sharply in focus. But the bigger issue is the composition. The image is unbalanced with horizon on the right much higher than on the left. Also the horizon is set too low, with too much sky. The key point of interest is the village not the sky! I think I should have moved closer into the village bringing the cows closer to provide foreground interest and reducing the amount of sky in the frame. Again I need to create a clear point of interest - perhaps the church tower.

My key learning point is to carefully pre-visualise the composition before shooting and hoping for the best. I will try to use  a panoramic viewing card to assist with this. Also when using a telephoto lens, I must be careful with the focus depth of field.


Landscape Photography Influences - Daisy Gilardini

I aim to use the blog to record information about interesting photographers I come across throughout the course. I was reading Travel Photographer of the Year Journey Three and amongst the many fine photographers I was particularly taken by the work of Daisy Gilardini. I went on to have a good look at her website  http://www.daisygilardini.com/portfolio.html .

I really like her work and particularly her landscapes. She uses colour which whilst strong is not overdone. Her images border on the abstract and have a powerful simplicity and beauty. Here are two examples:

Baobab Avenue at Sunset, Madagascar by Daisy Gilardini

North Pole by Daisy Gilardini 

The subjects are very different, but the style has a consistency which I really like. Strong, simple powerful compositions, strong use of light and slightly abstracted....I really like her work and will follow her work and her blog.

Photography 2: Landscape Projects One to Three

I have now started work now on the Landscape 2 course. I am working my way through the first few projects and giving thought to Assignment One.

Projects 1-3 are about the frame format and placing the horizon within the frame. What have I learned? Well it has made me realise that I often approach a landscape scene with a fixed view on how I wish to frame the image. A more rational and probably more successful approach is to first consider the nature of the landscape and then to fit the frame to it. It is also clear that placing the horizon is a compositional design decision which is greatly influenced by what the sky looks like and how it complements the other elements within the composition.

These points are illustrated by the following examples.

The first shot I took with a preconceived idea of isolating part of the landscape in portrait mode.

View from Bledlow Ridge - Portrait Version

The image does not work well. The grass in the foreground is uninteresting as is the featureless sky. It is also clear that horizontal lines predominate and cutting them off, as the portrait frame does, reveals a series of short parallel lines. These lead the eye nowhere and do not illustrate the true nature of the scene. Were the lines to zig zag or create an interesting pattern then framing in portrait mode might have been more successful.

The next image is a panoramic version which acknowledges the horizontal nature of the scene and the result is much better. The high horizon in this shot also limits the impact of the featureless sky but the blue haze remains unappealing.

View from Bledlow Ridge - Panoramic Version

Taking this a step further I isolated an interesting element of the landscape which I think reveals the spring growth and texture of the landscape far better and avoids the most unattractive sky and blue toned distant landscape altogether.

View from Bledlow Ridge - Isolating the landscape

My learning points from Projects 1-3 are as follows:
  1. Don't prejudge the format of the frame...consider the landscape carefully first...take time to consider the scene first!
  2. Consider alternative approaches - worth trying both portrait and landscape if the image is a strong one.
  3. UK landscape is typically flat and fits the landscape format more readily.
  4. Generally sky with interest will improve a landscape image....if the sky is dull and featureless it is probably be better to keep set the horizon higher to avoid large blank areas within the frame - an exception to this is where a minimalist approach is being taken and a blank sky is consistent with the scene as a whole.
  5. Look carefully within the frame - there may be a better image in there by isolating part of the frame.


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About Me

I have been taking photographs since I was young boy some 45 years ago, but only seriously since 2005 when I enrolled to study at the Open College of the Arts. I am working towards a BA in Photography. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society. This log record details of my projects and assignments during my studies. It also records ideas, work by other artists/photographers, notes on books/websites/exhibitions, influences, discoveries, thoughts, research findings and observations as I work through my courses. You can contact me at keith.greenough@btinternet.com or simply leave a comment on one of my posts.

Landscape Photography Bibliography

  • Andrea G Stillman (2007), Ansel Adams 400 Photographs, Little Brown New York USA
  • Andy Grundberg (1999), Crisis of the Real, Aperture Foundation New York
  • Ansel Adams (2007), Examples The Making of 40 Photographs, Little Brown New York USA
  • Ben Maddow(1989), Edward Weston, His Life, Aperture Foundation New York USA
  • Charlie Waite (1989), Scottish Islands, Constable London
  • Charlie Waite (1992), The Making of Landscape Photographs, Collins and Brown London
  • Charlie Waite (1999), Seeing Landscapes, Collins and Brown London
  • Charlie Waite (2002), In My Minds Eye, Photographers Institute Press East Sussex UK
  • Charlie Waite (2005), Landscape, Collins and Brown London
  • Clive Minnitt and Phil Malpas(2009), Finding the Picture, Envisage Books London
  • David Noton (2008), PHOTOGRAPY ESSENTIALS: WAITING FOR THE LIGHT, David & Charles PLC, London
  • Fay Godwin(1985), Land, William Heinemann London
  • Fay Godwin(1990), Our Forbidden Land, Jonathan Cape London
  • Fay Godwin(1998), Glassworks & Secret Lives, Stella Press East Sussex UK
  • Fay Godwin(2001), Landmarks, Dewi Lewis Publishing Stockport UK
  • Galen Rowell (1995), Mountain Light, Sierra Club Books San Francisco USA
  • Galen Rowell (2001), Inner Game of Outdoor Photography, Norton & co New York USA
  • Galen Rowell (2002),Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography, University of California Press USA
  • Harry Callaghan (1993), Ansell Adams in Color, Little Brown New York USA
  • Hunter, Biver & Fuqua(2007), Light Science & Magic, Elsevier Oxford UK
  • James Bentley & Charlie Waite (1987), Languedoc, George Philip London
  • James Bentley & Charlie Waite (1987), Languedoc, George Philip London
  • Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward, Eddie Ephraums (2006), Working the Light, Argentum London
  • Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward, Eddie Ephraums (2007), Developing Style and Vision, Argentum London
  • Joel Meyerowitz (2002), Cape Light, Little Brown and Company New York USA
  • John Berger, Ways of Seeing, Penguin Modern Classics
  • John P Schaefer (2007),The Ansel Adams Guide Book 2 Basic Techniques of Photography, Little Brown New York USA
  • John P Schaefer (2007),The Ansel Adams Guide Book I Basic Techniques of Photography, Little Brown New York USA
  • John Szarkowski (1981), American Landscapes, The Museum of Modern Art New York USA
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 01 (2007), AA Publishing
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 02 (2008), AA Publishing
  • Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 03 (2009), AA Publishing
  • Liz Wells (1996), Photography:A Critical Introduction, Routledge Oxon
  • Liz Wells (2003), The Photography Reader, Routledge Oxon
  • Marc Garanger (1989), Louisiane, Kodak
  • Robert Adams (1996), Beauty in Photography, Aperture Foundation New York USA
  • Robert Adams et al (2009), New Topographics, Steidl Germany
  • Stephen Shaw (2004), Uncommon Places The Complete Works, Thames and Hudson, London
  • Susan Sontag, On Photography, Penguin Books London
  • Terence Pitts (2008), Edward Weston (Icons Series), Taschen
  • TPOTY Awards (2010), TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR Journey Three, Travel Photographer of the Year Suffolk UK